Next in our How-To/DIY Cocktail series, we take a look at how to make tepache and using it in cocktails with a recipe by Thor Bergquist, Co-Owner of PS40.
What is Tepache
Tepache is a popular fermented pineapple drink often sold by street vendors in Mexico. Considered a type of cider, it sits at around 2-3% ABV and is fermented by natural airborne yeast.
In this How-To/DIY project, Thor Bergquist, Co-Owner of PS40 Bar in Sydney shares his recipe for making tepache. Most tepache recipes use the pineapple flesh but he recommends using the heart which is the most aromatic part and considered an aphrodisiac, and the skin of the pineapple. The sweetest part of the pineapple is between the skin and the flesh where sugar concentrates in the little round knobs.
How to Make Tepache
Recipe by Thor Bergquist, Co-Owner of PS40
- rind, heart and top of one pineapple
- 1 litre of filtered water
- 250g of cane sugar
- 2 cinnamon quills
- 6 whole cloves
- 3 star anise
mason jar, cheese cloth, rubber band, funnel, chinois or muslin cloth lined strainer, glass bottle with tight fitting lid
First Fermentation – Anaerobic Fermentation
- Rinse the pineapple in hot water but don’t scrub too much as this is a source of yeast.
- Cut the pineapple rind, the heart and top and put in the mason jar.
- Add the spices.
- Dissolve the sugar in one litre of water over gentle heat then leave to cool down.
- Once the syrup has cooled down, pour into the jar with the pineapple and spices.
- Cover the jar with a cheese cloth secured with a rubber band to allow CO2 to escape. This starts the anaerobic fermentation process. Keep it in a dry and cool place away from direct sunlight for 4 to 5 days.
- In 24 to 48 hours and it will start to ferment. Note: the timing will depend on the ambient temperature. On very hot days, fermentation is much faster than cold days. If fermentation is too fast, you can put it in the fridge to slow it down.
- As it begins to ferment, the liquid will turn cloudy, white foam will rise to the top and tiny bubbles start to form. Skim the foam and discard.
- At that point, smell and taste the brew on a daily basis. It should smell like ripe, rich, sweet pineapple. If it’s too pungent and earthy, it may have turned. Watch it closely. If you leave it too long, it can quickly turn to vinegar.
- Check daily for mould (see guide below in the Pro Tips). It’s ready once you see a lot of bubbles forming.
- When the tepache is ready, strain the liquid through a chinois or a strainer lined with a cheese cloth then pour into a clean bottles. The yield is slightly over one litre at 2-3% ABV.
Second Fermentation – Aerobic Fermentation
Tepache is meant to be slightly fizzy. If does not have effervescence, begin secondary fermentation:
- Place the liquid in a large glass airtight container with 1 tablespoon of sugar, close the lid tightly and leave it for one day. The yeast will start to eat the sugar and release CO2 gas which can’t escape therefore it goes into the liquid and gives it effervescence.
- Store tepache in a cool room at 1o-2oC for 1 month. Otherwise, it keeps for one week. You can also boil the bottle for 1 minute in a pot of boiling water to kill off any yeast to halt further fermentation.
As PS40, the tepache is placed into kegs with sugar to ferment then it is charged with CO2 gas.
Pro Tips for Making Tepache
- The process of making tepache is simple but it takes practice to perfect it.
- Don’t use overripe pineapples as these will accelerate the fermentation process.
- Make sure everything you use has been sterilised to get rid of any bacteria. Boil the jars if necessary.
- Use the cleanest water possible such as bottled water. The least impurities in the water, the better the end result.
- Smell your brew every day. it should smell funky but not off.
- Taste as you go. You’re after a slight fizz on the tongue with a fruity and
- Tepache is ready once you see a white foam with a lot of bubbles form. Once the foam solidifies, it has grown into mould. Here is a guide
- white solid foam – it has grown into mould
- green mould – about to release toxins
- black mould – your tepache has turned, throw it out and start again
- For secondary fermentation, you can use vacuum seal bags or airtight zip plastic bags. You’ll know when it’s done because the bags will expand when CO2 has been released.
Use different spices and try making with different fruit such as bananas. Experiment with using the flesh and skin as well as different types of sugar. A common variation in Mexico is to add hibiscus for a floral notes. Use tamarind for a tart variation. You can also use ginger which aids in fermentation or add brewers yeast but the latter adds its own flavour profile.
How to Drink Tepache
Tepache can be simply enjoyed over ice or with tequila or white rum, ice and lime as a refreshing simple drink. In cocktails, use it to replace pineapple juice for a funkier and more complex flavour.
Tepache is not essentially a Tiki ingredient but it can be used as a substitute such as in a Pina Colada for a less sweet and tropical and more fermented and funky flavour. Tepache also plays well with rum, tequila, mezcal and beer.
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